Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
JPL represents a public-private partnership in aerospace that has outlasted the Cold War. Beginning before World War II, JPL partnered with the military to develop aircraft and aerospace technology. After the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957, the US government turned to JPL for a response. JPL and the military collaborated in the rapid development of a four-stage rocket. Three short months after Sputnik, Explorer 1 became the first U.S. satellite. Thus began the “space race” with the Soviet Union that culminated with the US moon landing. JPL has a variety of outreach initiatives to the public, with educational programming for elementary through postgraduate-level students. Participants will receive a private, customized two-hour tour.
Air & Space Exhibit, California Science Center
Dr. Kenneth Phillips will provide a guided tour of Air & Space Exhibits, California Science Center. The Center, operated in partnership with the state of California, is the West Coast’s largest hands-on science center. The Sketch Foundation Gallery Air and Space Exhibits provides authentic and reproduction airplanes, jets, unmanned and manned space vehicles and associated equipment that played key roles in the development of aerospace technology. The museum became home to the space shuttle orbiter Endeavour in 2012. All of the Museum’s hands-on artifacts will allow participants to appreciate the products of aerospace research up close through the guided tour.
Aerospace Legacy Foundation & Columbia Memorial Space Center
Located on the site of North American Aviation’s former plant, the Aerospace Legacy Foundation is caretaker for many archival materials related to North America Aviation, Rockwell, and Boeing plants in Southern California. Gerald Blackburn, a Boeing project manager for forty years and recent author of a book on Downey aerospace history from 1947 to 1999, will discuss Downey’s historic aircraft assembly facilities. Then participants will be able to peruse archival materials and explore the Columbia Memorial Space Center, an interactive museum designed to help visitors to explore the history of the space program. Blackburn will facilitate a roundtable of retired employees from a range of fields in the aerospace industry.
Long Beach Airport
The oldest municipal airport in Southern California, Long Beach Airport started to grow significantly when the city began building military hangars in 1928. This strong military air presence made sense in light of the fact that Long Beach Harbor was home to the US Pacific Fleet—until 1940, when it was relocated to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Throughout World War II, the airfield serviced fighters, bombers, utility aircraft, and patrol planes. The airfield included a Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron whose pilots transported planes to various theaters of war. The Douglas Aircraft facility located at Long Beach delivered its first cargo plane two weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack, and produced more than 9,000 planes by war’s end. Southern California hired women for industrial positions in large numbers. Indeed, many of the most famous images of women factory workers during the war were taken by the Office of War Information at Long Beach’s Douglas plant. McDonnell-Douglas (later Boeing) continued to produce military aircraft throughout the Cold War.
Del Valle Park, Lakewood
Del Valle Park is located in historic Lakewood. This park offers an excellent vantage point for viewing the historic suburban sprawl of a postwar community larger than Levittown; the park also displays a key Korean War memorial described in Jon Wiener’s book, as well as in speaker DJ Waldie’s memoir. Waldie’s talk, ” The ‘Holy Land’ of Lakewood: Life in the Archetypical Postwar Southern California Suburb,” will reflect on the creation of his memoir, Holy Land a poetic memoir about the creation of Lakewood, California and the experiences of early residents, including Waldie and his family.
The Wende Museum
The Wende Museum is a collections-based research and education institute that preserves Cold War artifacts from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Participants will explore a variety of Cold War artifacts from the US’s superpower rival, including objects and images celebrating Soviet aerospace achievements. The visit helps participants compare aerospace in American popular culture with that of the US’s superpower rival.